Pondering NOT attending the Historical Novel Society conference. In reading over the information about the agents who will be there, there’s no one who’s likely to be interested in my book. In looking at the offerings for sessions, nothing appeals to me at all. The only thing is I spent $$ on promotional materials for my book signing and I paid for the conference, but I could recoup the hotel costs and find something more fun to do with a weekend in June. I read a a couple of very honest and straightforward blog posts yesterday on why books don’t sell.
One key point was this, “15: Setting and storyline. If it’s fiction, having a setting outside of America, England or Ireland. “Because I love Russia (or Africa or Thailand)” just plain rarely sells well in America. Or having a storyline that is not entertaining—and very hard—to read (i.e. child abuse, sexual abuse, deaths of key characters).” My books 1) are not set in America, 2) are hard to read — they deal with tough subjects and key characters die.
Anyway, it’s a useful post by an agent whom, I thought, might be a fit for me. After looking at dozens of books — historical fiction — represented by his agency, he’s no fit at all.
The question comes back to why write. I think there are more reasons people write than they read. Not everything we write should be published. I’m the first to agree — but as the blog post points out, on any given day, 100,000 people start a blog on WordPress. Why? I wonder if that’s true or if it’s an exaggeration? I started keeping a blog here — a public blog — because I read a book that said an aspiring novelist needed to build a platform on WordPress. So, I did.
The blog posts (WordPress blogs, by the way) go on to say that bad words are, uh, bad and that people who use them risk not being published or selling. I don’t like that world. I am as morally opposed to THAT as people who hate bad words are morally opposed to bad words. Imagine! Yet in none of my novels are there any “bad” words. Why? They don’t fit the characters, the time or the place. Fuck no. It’s got nothing to do with whether I “like” bad words or not. It has to do with the story. The scale, though. I’m opposed to censorship; they’re opposed to a few words. Which is the larger world view? And what world do I want to live in? And then…what world DO I live in?
I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Anyway, here are link 1 and link 2 to these useful posts for anyone who’d like some straight-from-the hip commentary from an extremely successful agent with one foot heavily in the Christian book “genre”.